Slicing Up Dreadnoughts, Oh Ho Ho Ho

I have a lot of love for the Contemptor dreadnoughts – they look nimble and yet hearty, and they look both advanced and anachronistic compared to the standard dreadnought. I love them… but I wasn’t quite ready to buy a few from Forge World.

The Betrayal at Calth set gave us the plastic Contemptor, albeit in a single pose. So, with two plastic Contemptors in hand, I ordered the Relic Contemptor I’d had my eye on for years, as well as a variety of arms. With a jeweler’s saw and some green stuff, I magnetized all three of these at the elbow, and reposed the legs of the single pose Contemptor. I was also able to give one of the plastic Contemptors a different head (from the Contemptor Whirlwind pack) as well as a magnet on top for an optional missile rack. Here’s the end result:

Three Contemptor Dreadnoughts
Double Kheres assault cannons, plus a good old melee Contemptor! Don’t worry – the head for the Relic Contemptor is around, it’s just going to be painted separately.

From left to right, they are Ultera, Optimus, and Omegas. To prove they’re all magnetized, here’re some bits swapped around!

Three Contemptor Dreadnoughts, different weapon options
One can’t help but love a Conversion Beamer on a Dreadnought, so I didn’t pass that up.

And while I was at it, I got a nice Cyclonic Melta Lance for Maximir!

Maximir, Leviathan Dreadnought, with melta lance
To be painted at a later date…

More to come soon!

The Year of Painting: Tyranids

I haven’t mentioned this on the blog yet, but 2015 is the Year of Painting. It’s kind of like a New Year’s Resolution, if I made New Year’s Resolutions. Regardless, in my seven or eight years in this hobby, I’ve accumulated quite a few models. I have not, however, painted most of these models. Most of this comes from a huge wishy-washy quality my mind has – I agonize over details like color schemes and whether my painting skill is up to snuff. Naturally, I don’t improve without practice, and thus the vicious cycle continues.

But no more!

Now I’m just chugging through, slapping acrylics over primers over plastics willy-nilly, firing off my airbrush despite a lack of experience with it, and generally just trying to have a good time.

Our next installment is some tyranids – I did some hormagaunts to test a color scheme, and threw that on my hodgepodge Swarmlord. The tyranids were just primed white, then the armor plates were coated brown. I washed the white parts with a sepia wash, and the brown parts with a crimson wash, and then I did some highlights, the eyes, etc.

The Swarmlord is built out of leftover parts – I sculpted a cruddy body, and then tried to cover up my shoddy work with nicely-made green stuff “hoses” (made with the Tentacle Maker) that are meant to look like carapace structures. No idea how they look to others, but I think their generic, xenomorphic appearance works just great.

The fluff piece in my head for this “Swarmlord” is that he survived a disease attack from a Nurgle daemon or cultist, but survived and is now more powerful as a result. Naturally, he just counts as the Swarmlord, but I do like making up stories.

Continue reading The Year of Painting: Tyranids

WIP: Ghetorix Re-pose

Ghetorix is a warpwolf character warbeast (for laypersons, he’s a big, special werewolf with an axe) for my Circle Orboros army. Naturally, I didn’t like the way his wrists looked in his default pose. I say “naturally” because I tend to find flaws in every model that I am then motivated to convert to my own liking.

So, here’s Privateer Press’s photo of Ghetorix:

Notice his left wrist? I don't like its angle. It is goofy.

So… I had to change him. And that meant cutting his axe in half, then sculpting new handle wrapping in Green Stuff, and then pinning him together… and then taking terrible pictures of him because his axe is heavy and he’s not based yet.

Ghetorix 1
Oh man, what a crappy photo of my work. So crappy. Bad angle. He's leaning. What was I thinking taking this photo? What I am thinking posting it here?
Ghetorix 2
This is a much better picture, which shows how badass this axe is, and it shows that my sculpting work isn't too bad.

Next, Ghetorix needs a FABULOUS base, because all special character werewolf types need a FABULOUS base. I just have no idea what that base should be…

Coming soon… some posts with painting, and some things not about minis, but about some other aspect of gaming… hopefully.

WIP: Deathjack

Oh, the horrors of Deathjack.

I have a small Cryx collection that I really ought to spend more time finishing. The centerpiece, of course, is the dastardly Deathjack. I love the Deathjack model, but it’s notoriously hard to keep together, it’s top-heavy, and the “official” pose leaves some things to be desired.

So, I set out with some goals in mind:

  1. Deathjack’s clawed fingers would be turned inward. Out of the box, they point straight out, which looks dumb.
  2. Deathjack’s head would be in the top half of his body. The hunched-over pose suggested by the instructions and box photo is awful, placing his head at the level of his waist, apparently.
  3. Deathjack’s head would be positioned so he strode into battle with his chin up, and not so that he was dejectedly looking at the ground.
  4. Deathjack would be pinned all over. His spikes, his chimneys, his shoulders, his arms, his claws – everything would have pins and whatever adhesive necessary to make him solid. Pieces would not fall off.
  5. Deathjack’s pose would be as dynamic as I could manage.

In the end, I declare success! (mostly)

Here is how he looks right now (pending a little bit of cleanup and gap-filling):

Deathjack - front angle
The right arm's pose looks slightly odd here - otherwise, his head is held high, his fingers and thumbs curl inward, and (trust me) he is pinned to death.

Deathjack - side view
The right arm looks much cooler here. You can also see how I bent his toes so that his left foot is almost gripping the base.

And Now, the Horror

This wasn’t easily accomplished. Here’re some of the horrors I endured while accomplishing this:

  • Pins in every joint, including a finger and a thumb, the spikes on the back of the hands, and the outstretched rib cage bits on his chest.
  • Big pins holding his legs into the base. The base is Super Sculpey glued to the plastic base, with craft matchsticks to create a “hardwood floor” or “deck” look, along with some bits of broken plaster for debris.
  • Gorilla Glue. The big pins in the legs weren’t enough to hold Deathjack still. Since there were gaps between the feet and ankles, I filled it with Gorilla Glue, which expands as it dries. This filled those gaps, holding Deathjack fast and steady to the base.
  • Once I found out how well Gorilla Glue worked in the ankles, I poured it into the hips, too. I had flared Deathjack’s legs out a bit, and that made them impossible to secure to the pelvis part. But the expanding Gorilla Glue closed the gaps and secured it. I did have to cut and file at the excess Gorilla Glue to clean up the gap, though.
  • Gorilla Glue helped secure the goofy wrist poles into the two-part claw pieces.
  • Apoxy Sculpt filled in the gap under the head to help me attach the head to the neck at the angle I wanted.
  • Liquid Green Stuff helped me fill smaller gaps and secure things like the spikes on the backs of the hands, the thumb that had broken off before I even started bending it, and the gaps left in the hips.
  • Most remarkably, I broke six or seven (very tiny) drill bits while trying to make pilot holes for pins. All of these bits remain in Deathjack, some of them acting as de facto pins to help keep him together.

It took a lot of time, and there were several moments (especially as drill bits broke) where I wanted to throw Deathjack against the wall, but in the end, I think the finished product speaks for itself, and makes the frustration well worth it.

Now… I should probably paint it…

Reposing the Woldwarden, Part 2

More woldwarden! In the next step, I cut the right arm above the elbow, in the wood part… where it would be easy to cover up the cut with Green Stuff.

Woldwarden Arm
I cut the arm with a rotary tool with a cutting wheel. It goes a little faster than a jeweler's saw, it's easier than trying to clip it, and it makes a basically clean cut.

I liked the shoulder joint, so with this cut, I can spin the forearm inward to make the pose a bit more… sensible. So, I drill a tiny hole in each piece of the arm, stick in a pin, glue it up, and get the following:

Arm back together
This didn't want to hold, so I had to glue it two or three times.

Now, back to the legs. Each leg, at the hip, has a plate along the woldwarden’s side that sticks up. At the angle I had glued the legs, the chest piece wouldn’t fit into between those two plates. This put me in a dilemma… I could clip the plates, or bend them, but I decided to just pull the legs further apart.

I put a longer pin in, and then tried to fill the gap with Green Putty. This was basically successful. Here’s a photo:

Woldwarden legs
The codpiece there is off-kilter, but you can't even notice it on the finished pose.

To make sure the pose would look alright when actually standing up, I stuck the legs in some wax. The wax is from a Babybel cheese – it works great for holding something for a bit (except the wax sometimes has to be wiped off the piece). In this picture, you can also see the first half of pinning on the body.

Woldwarden legs
Cheese wax! Lots of things come in handy on the minis workbench.

And here’s a side view:

Woldwarden Legs Again
You can see the woldwarden's gait is going to be a bit ponderous, but that makes sense for a giant made of rock and wood.

Next on Reposing the Woldwarden… putting it all together!


The Wolf King, Part 7

More Wolf King!

To finish the Wolf King (finally), I gave him a different (better?) axe. Here’s Magnus with his new double-edged axe.

The Wolf King
This axe looks a lot more like Morkai, the axe wielded by Logan Grimnar of the Space Wolves. Since the Wolf King is a stand-in for Grimnar, it makes sense to use this axe.

To cover up the gap in between his hip and right leg, I decided to add another animal pelt to the Wolf King, this time as an “apron” like those often worn by Space Marine commanders. Also, to make the corpse of the Chaos Lord on the base blend better, I added some Green Stuff to make it meet the base at a smooth angle.

Wolf King details
A shot of the Wolf King... probably the last shot before he's primed... probably.

And now, a close-up!

Wolf King Closeup
Ooo, details!

Now, when the Green Stuff cures, just a little cleanup and filing and he should be ready for primer!

When I get around to painting him, I’ll post more… but for now, say farewell to Magnus Sorensen, the Wolf King!

The Wolf King, Part 6

The people demand more Wolf King! (Or maybe they don’t.) Here’re a few more progress updates.

First, I added a furry pelt to his right leg. This was really just to give his legs a bit more detail, since most Captains and Chapter Masters have really detailed armor. However, Magnus, the Wolf King, is from a ramshackle Space Marine Chapter whose gear is in poor condition. Rather than a golden god, Magnus is a barbarian lord in the best gear that could be scrounged together for him.

Wolf King Leg
This fur doesn't look too bad...

Additionally, I added a furry pelt to the inside of his right shoulder.

Wolf King Shoulder
Ok, it's a little weird to be wearing a pelt right there, but if you don't think too hard about it, it looks good.

Great, right? Well, then I got the new Space Wolves Thunderwolf Calvary, and there’s a great axe in there which looks closer to the axe that Logan Grimnar uses (and Wolf King Magnus “counts as” Logan Grimnar). So… I took clippers to the wrist…

Wolf King sans Axe
Oopsie. Looks like someone dropped his axe... and his hand.

Since it was a joint I’d previously glued together, the clippers just pushed apart the wrist and forearm – a nice, clean cut!

Next time on Wolf King… the new axe, filling the last few gaps, and the last few touches before priming!

The Wolf King, Part 5

Sorry, I got a bit distracted there – back to the Wolf King!

The next step was to add the shoulder armor. These are just boring old Space Wolf Terminator shoulders. I also started to clean up the beard and hair a little with a scalpel. Pro-tip: Scalpels are really sharp. They are so sharp, you will not feel it when it slices your finger open. This makes them excellent tools, and a great way to get scars.

Wolf King!
Wow. There's a lot of damage in the plastic there... a DSLR really accentuates the parts I messed up, doesn't it?

Here’s another shot:

Wolf King!
This is a decent shot of the shoulders, where I filled the gap in the leg, and the defeated Chaos Lord serving as a doormat.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I ended up using the Instant Mold to mold and cast the wolf head from the original Logan Grimnar. I also molded a wolf pelt cloak from one of the Space Wolves Grey Hunters. I took these two parts and glued them to the Wolf King:

Wolf King with Pelts!
This wolf head is a much more suitable size.

Now, we take a blob of Green Stuff, stick it in the gap between the head and cloak, and push in our tool (after dipping it in water!), making smooth lines joining the head and cloak:

Wolf King's Cloak
Wow! It's like they were never separate pieces! That's the power of Green Stuff!

Next time, we’ll take Green Stuff and cover up some gaps and add some enhancements. I will take a moment now to say this – I am totally in love with this guy. I’m almost never this happy with my work, but I don’t have many complaints about the Wolf King so far.

The Wolf King, Part 4

So, I wanted to have a nice trophy wolf pelt to drape over the Wolf King’s terminator body. To accomplish this, I decided to Instant Mold the head of a Dungeons & Dragons Dire Wolf miniature.

Wolf Mold
Instant Mold face-hugger!

After cooling, it seemed like this was going to work…

Wolf Mold 2
Wolf miniature with the mold of its head

So, I dutifully filled the mold with Green Stuff…

Green Stuff in the Mold
I mostly focused on filling the outside of the mold. The hollow center could always be fixed later, where needed.

And, after 12 hours of curing, I pulled it from the mold. I then cut holes up near the nose, clipped some curved spikes from some Chaos bit, and inserted the curved spikes (with super glue) as teeth.

Wolf Head
I think this came out pretty well!

Only then did I encounter the real problem – the wolf “pelt” head was way too big for the top of the body. I went for something really impressively sized as a trophy, and unfortunately, it made the Wolf King look awfully disproportionate, and not like the slayer of great beasts I was hoping for. In the end, I molded the wolf pelt head from the original Logan Grimnar model. (I don’t have pics of the molding process, but you’ll see the head in future pictures).

At the same time, I started on a nice beard and hairdo for the Wolf King!

Beard 1!
I start with just a little ball of Green Stuff on the chin...

We start by sticking the Green Stuff in the area we’re working on. Then, we wet our sculpting tools – in this case, just a simple sculpting tool. First, I use the tool’s blunt end to push the Green Stuff up on to the face. I give the Green Stuff a few minutes to get used to being stuck to the face. Then, (after dipping the tool in water again!) I start to drag lines into the green stuff from the face downward. Voila! Beard! I do the same basic thing on top of the head, and…

Beard 2
Not a bad start...

The first stab at the beard came out a big too scraggly. You don’t want a beard to look like tiny hairs, but rather large waves of hair – same with the `do on top.

Beard 3
See! I learned how to focus the camera!

Next time, we add shoulders, take another stab at the beard, and end up with a nice wolf pelt despite our first failed attempt!


The Wolf King, Part 3

In Part 3, we give the Wolf King his arms!

Axe arm!
Let me axe you something...

This was a little bit of Frankenstein work. From shoulder to wrist, this is a Terminator arm from the Dark Angels upgrade sprue. I cut the hand (and Stormbolter) off, then stuck on the axe (with hand) from the Space Wolves Terminators box. I did not like the arm that was supposed to go with this axe – I really needed the Wolf King to hold his axe triumphantly, and that arm wasn’t doing it. I pushed the arm out further to his right by putting in a spacer (aka “a tiny piece of plastic trimmed from a sprue”) at the shoulder joint.

This crappy picture kind of shows the spacer in the shoulder... but uh... not well.

For the other arm, I wanted to do something close to the original “Wolf King” – Logan Grimnar of the Space Wolves. Logan has a storm bolter attached to the back of his left wrist. Of course, so do the Grey Knights. So, I grabbed a Grey Knight Terminator arm, storm bolter, and hand, and I glued those on.

Left Arm
The Grey Knight Terminator box is probably the best box of minis in production right now.

To fill in some of the gaps in the right arm due to X-treme Posing™ I pulled out my Green Putty (different from Green Stuff) and started thoughtlessly jamming it in the joint.

Green Putty 1
Green Putty is a pretty good filler which deserves its own post.

And here’s a poor shot of the mini so far. (Like I said, the pictures do get better later as I learn how to better use the DSLR… but for this one, I didn’t quite have it.)

Wolf King, unfinished
Seriously, I will get better with the focus and whatnot.

Next time, we’ll try and put a nifty wolf pelt and wolf head on the Wolf King… and it won’t quite work the first time. Plus, a beard and hair that don’t quite work the first time!